My 9-year-old is stubborn. I don't mean unreasonable, like a toddler who wants her carrots cut into sticks instead of circles. And I don't mean defiant, like a teenager who blows his parents off when they ask him to clean his room. I mean stubborn. As in, right or wrong, when she takes a position on an issue, there's no budging.
I'm lucky in that she's a pretty reasonable child with simple requests — she just wants to play, do gymnastics, and not have to eat anything too gross for dinner. But when we do butt heads, she will dig in hard. I used to worry that this would make life difficult for her when she got older, especially in the workplace.
But a study in the journal Developmental Psychology has put my fears to rest. It turns out there's a strong likelihood that my daughter will be rich and successful as an adult, all thanks to her stubborn personality.
The study followed kids for four decades from 12 to 52 years of age. When the kids were kids, they looked at different factors — such as intelligence, socioeconomic status, responsibility, patience, pessimism, and yes, stubbornness — and attempted to understand how those factors affected their career outcomes later in life.
Of all of the factors evaluated, it turns out that the best indicator of a child's future success is how stubborn she is.
But wait, why would a child's stubbornness make her more successful? The study's authors stop short of explaining why they got the results they did. But they do toss out a few guesses. Maybe kids who are more competitive in the classroom will grow up to be more competitive in the workplace. Maybe the kid who always takes the bigger cookie will be the one to ask for a higher salary at work. Maybe the kids who fight with their parents over bedtimes or curfews will be better equipped to stand up for themselves at work over salaries and vacation time.
So there you have it. If you too have a strong-willed child, you can relax in the knowledge that all of those debates over homework or chores or Playstation time are helping your child develop skills that will serve her well in the future.